Faculty members from the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the University of Wisconsin Law School hosted a town hall meeting at the Sheraton Madison Hotel focusing on health care policy, climate change and criminal justice.
Jason Fletcher, a professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, stressed the significance of the Affordable Care Act and the unique medical plans in Wisconsin. Fletcher defended the three individual components of ACA, which are the implementation of market reforms, the establishment of new health insurance marketplaces and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility for low-income adults.
“The three components of ACA are like a three-legged stool. Some politicians tried to take one leg out,” Fletcher said. “If you take one leg down, the whole stool would fall.”
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One of the other focuses of the town hall was conviction and crime. One member of the public asked about alternatives to conviction since future careers are impacted by conviction records. Cecelia Klingele, associate professor at the UW Law School, said contrary to stereotypes, the court system offers more options for first offenders and low-level offenders.
“Over 97 percent prisoners will come back to our community,” Klingele said. “We’re figuring out how to improve public safety with minimal harm to the people who have to pass through our criminal justice system.”
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Klingele said some of the options besides convictions include diversion courts or referral to medical services when applicable.
When discussing energy and environment, Gregory Nemet, associate professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, was optimistic about the previous achievements including the clean power plan and results from the Paris climate conference in which 195 countries agreed to reducing emissions.
“Although issues of climate change and energy are always underrepresented, lots of progress have been made to this difficult problem,” Nemet said.
The La Follette School of Public Affairs are working with state legislators on two programs to solve these social problems — community connect and family impact. The community connect program would match faculty with legislators to work collaboratively and the family impact program highlighted homelessness as the most significant issue to be resolved in Wisconsin.
More town hall meetings are expected to be held around Wisconsin and Twin Cities talking about hot-button issues brought up in the election season.